Celebrating Jaanu: Trisha’s moment of brilliance that magically consummates the character

The sky outside is dark and vengeful; the rains lashing out like crazy. As the wind whips up into a rhythmic flutter, Jaanu and Ram are having dinner.

The childhood sweethearts have met after almost two decades of destiny wreaking havoc, on the beautiful thing they once shared. An atmosphere of familiar unrest hangs over them in the present, like an invisible cloak.

A million ‘what ifs’ – with sweeping consequences – linger around.

And this is when Jaanu, almost by instinct, stumbles upon a strange kind of a personal ‘truth or dare’ moment. She suddenly feels this visceral urge to blurt out something, which sends her reeling in a barrage of emotions. Eventually, she stops short.

This involute moment assumes particular significance in the grand scheme of things because a part of her, for the first time, hurriedly rushes into a cocoon of coyness, promptly compensating for her crumbling alter-ego on the other side, that’s begging for some kind of an impulsive, verbal catharsis.

The former eventually wins, bundling up all those myriad emotions into a repressed smile, that hangs around the corners of her lips – like a kid who has been denied his favourite icecream – in anticipation of an impossible deliverance.

“இந்த நேரத்துல ஒன்னு சொல்லணும் தோணுது…
ஆனா, சொல்ல மாட்டேன்!”

That’s all you hear.

Trisha plays this all-crucial moment like a natural, chewing on the truckloads of romantic tension, along with the food in her mouth, with a sort of plodding restraint, that comes off like a lurking bomb.

And, there’s also a blush – the kind that mirrors the soul – and it effectively complements her sparkling eyes, frantically pushing ahead, through the confounding layers of agony and guilt.

The woman’s simpering uncertainty seems to come from somewhere deep within… and that’s truly soul-swelling to behold.

Kannamma Unna: Nailing the grey, groovy and slinky notes of the ‘attraction flush’

Do you ever think about this sadistic side of the apparent lovebug? Come one, why does it always have to bite so strategically that you end up getting attracted to a person, very much unlike you? Is it nature’s yet another savage joke? Well, wouldn’t it be an awful lot simpler and less messy if Cupid, so to speak, uses his logical skills for the barest of moments, and sets you up with a person, who matches your sensibilities, rather than with someone, who is on the far opposite end of your spectrum?

Perhaps, that’s why they say, there are no answers to anything concerning the heart; only damned choices! But then, can two people so different from each other, really fall head over heels in passioned ‘love’? And if so, can they coexist happily forever?

Gautham, a conflicted youth – who is still reeling from a troubled childhood, because of an ill-understood parental separation – doesn’t care about any of these exercises in profundity. The man is now lurching in a feeling so strange; it stretches throughout his whole body. He’s smiling on the outside, but inside, it’s fuckin’ overwhelming.

Well, what an impetuous journey it had been, from what he was, a couple of weeks back, to where he is now!

He had first met Tara at a party – the girl, who has been responsible for all this mayhem. But knowing Gautham, it could be safely assumed that the guy didn’t go in, all guns blazing, wanting something to happen between them. It just… happened. For starters, he kept meeting Tara in the most unfortuitous of circumstances. He didn’t pursue her. He had no small talk to offer. He didn’t have a problem with her life choices. He didn’t go into raptures, when she put her hand on his shoulders, seated on the pillion of his bike. It was Tara, who was instinctively drawn to the seeming appeal of Gautham’s unhindered and hot-blooded manliness.

Now, in the present, Gautham, after throwing out a mouthful of random apathy, gives in to the feels on the sidelines of a particular court-case hearing, that Tara, wantonly, bails him out of. The girl had undoubtedly fallen for him – her heart dancing around her chest – and after a couple of days of tormenting restraint, she’s now unable to conceal her shooting hormones, which now seem to slosh out through her car’s roof.

And that’s when it happens. Tara, seated snugly in the front seat of the departing sedan, slowly breaks into a mysterious smile, while randomly glaring at something ahead. The faint glimmer of the golden sun lingers over her shimmering face, almost as if playing around her dazzling beauty, thereby revealing eyes throbbing of an inexplicable ardour.

Swagatha now opens the track with an equally-intriguing humming bit, which craftily leads you into this rapturous world of romantic wizardry.

And before Gautham can get a grip of the proceeding spell, Tara proceeds to slip on her sunglasses, almost in slow motion; her eyes slyly shifting focus towards her man, before spectacularly rounding off the tasteful ruse with a stunning wink. The message had been finally passed on, and how!

And the mesmerising blend of sitar and ghatam begins. It is, in a way, death by music.

Well, Gautham had never seen a woman express that way, leave alone, such a sensual trance. He had noticed a strange sort of soothing calmth on her face, beneath that sparkly beam, and it completely eludes him. But, he can feel a half-distressing warmth flowing through his body, as the hairs on his neck hold up. Something flutters in his stomach. He isn’t able to make any sense of the whole emotional inundation, but something inside him feels so unbelievably good.

Sam CS now enters the scene to paint the explosive moment with Kannamma Unna – a slinky, layered, and groovy scorcher, that captures the initial fervour of attraction, with a mystical folksy flavour.

One look at Gautham, and you know the kind of internal wrangle that he’s going through. Maybe, he feels like being in heaven and hell at the same time? For a freaking moment, his world freezes in Tara’s wink. He’s at a loss for everything; no words, no thoughts. Just a half-coy grin. Breathless, heart pounding like crazy. At some level, he doesn’t want any of this madness. As the chaos plays havoc in his chest, Tara’s car whizzes away. It’s all over. Nothing will be the same again.

And Anirudh, operating in his comfort zone of matter-of-fact-ly coziness, juts in, exactly at the right moment, to lift the song to a whole-new level.

கண்ணம்மா உன்ன
மனசில் நினைக்கிறேன்
பார்வை பாரடி… பெண்ணே!

என்னென்னமோ கொஞ்சி
பேச துடிக்கிறேன்
நீயும் பேசினா… கண்ணே!

When Gautham had first met Tara, he had lost his entire world. At least, inside his head. How can someone, with such lethal trust tissues, hang on to something so incomprehensible? How can you keep pouring love into something that you perceive as an abyss? But then, he sees it. It must be something about her personality; her angelic demeanour that makes him feel so cherished, so safe and warm. He had known heartbreak well enough to shatter his mind, to leave his soul feeling like dust in the wind, and his body unwilling to live. But then, this girl comes along, and forces him to risk everything again – being broken all over again, to love again, fully knowing his own fragility. But then, for now, he revels in it.

எனக்குள்ள புதிதாக
புது காதல் நீ தந்த…
மனசாகும் வலிகூட
சுகம்தானே நீ சொன்னா!

You get his fix? On one hand, he feels as though he’s in a dangerous fire with Tara around, but yet, he feels a strange load lifted off him in her company. It feels as though someone has finally given him peace. He feels so light, like on top of the world, yet his heart is howling in insecurity.

சொக்காத சொக்காத
யார் பாத்தும் சிக்காத
என் நெஞ்சில் ஏன் வந்து
என்னோட திக்கான

And so, right now, Gautham’s universe seems to begin and end with Tara. He could run forever, far and away, but in the end, every path seems to lead right back to her heart and soul.

That way, it’s astonishing – scary even – how you can go from someone being a complete stranger, to being completely consumed by them, in a matter of moments. But, guess what, that’s the gamble. You don’t ask before you fall. You just fall. And pray that your angel – regardless of the gender – catches you. Somehow.

***

Here’s the video song:

Film: Ispade Rajavum Idhaya Raniyum (2019)

Vaa Rayil Vida Polaama: A pristine melody, that oxymoronically, tugs at your heart in increasingly harrowing ways

You know, very few things in life are more gut-wrenchingly frustrating and disillusioning than wanting to be with someone, who loves you heart and soul, but you go on to realise that you can’t be together, because of things that are not under your control.

Love is all that you need? Will just your love – in its most unadulterated glory – make the cut, in this society riddled with identity politics, caste hegemony, and what not?

Jothi Mahalakshmi, aka Jo, an upper-caste student at the government law college in Tirunelveli, at least believes so, when she takes a liking to Pari, a lower-caste youth from a nearby remote village. Now, Jo, being the prototype of the naive upper-class, city-bred youth, is almost shockingly blind to the stark sociopolitical gorge, that divides them. One look at Pari, and what she sees is a good-natured, caring introvert, who wants to stay out of trouble and go about his job. And over time, she develops a unique soft corner for him. She becomes his personal English tutor – a language he isn’t familiar with – and that makes him feel a lot better, amidst all the stereotyping. And as she befriends him and gains his confidence, belying all the pervading cynicism, she is drawn towards him like she had known him for years. Ask her what she likes about him, and she, in all likelihood, would not be able to point a finger at it. It’s something intuitive, and she revels in the small moments of the blossoming relationship.

Pari, however, sees Jo as his guileless ‘devathai’ – someone who has been planted into his conflicted existence by destiny to effect his impending deliverance. He might be an affable personality; well, not particularly cognizant of the explosive caste-power dynamics at play in the setting, but he’s no hopeless romantic. He’s well aware of his identity, and so, their conspicuous disparities take a darker hue in his eyes, so much so that he starts pulling himself back at the slightest opportunity. Jo’s tale, to be frank, is one of privilege – she studied well and was asked by her father to take up law. Contrastingly, Pari just wants an escape from a never-ending era of oppression through education. Despite having grown up in the same district, they have been, all along, diagrammatic opposites in the ‘entitlement’ space.

Now, Jo, blissfully ignorant of the unscrupulous ways of her bigoted kin and the simmering violence that lies underneath, invites Pari to her sister’s wedding. When Pari, however, shows up at the ceremony, he’s taken to a closed room by the girl’s dad, and then battered to pulp, before being urinated on by her relatives.

Now, imagine yourself in Pari’s position. What will you do? The man’s world, which was being made richer by the day by a ‘devathai’ has been capsized in one fateful moment. He deals with the indignation by turning more sullen and inhibited.

Jo, however, unable to bear the emotional torment and blackmail at her home, comes to Pari and tells him that she had confessed her love to them, unmindful of the consequences. Pari is naturally overwhelmed, but his awareness of the agonisingly-skewed atmosphere around leaves him baffled, and worried about the sinister snow-ball effect, that had been set into motion.

And Santhosh Narayanan, rises to the occasion, to nail this dewy-eyed romance of Jo with Vaa Rayil Vida Polaama – a minimalistic, yet incredibly-orchestrated sobering melody – which, oxymoronically, opens up all your bottled-up angst against this damned reality and lets them all out, through that lone dribble over-spilling your moist eyes.

வா ரயில் விட போலாமா
உனக்கின்னும் கோவமா
மன்னிச்சிடு போலாம் வா..

The immaculate nature of Prithika’s voice does strange things to your subconsciousness. It pulls at your heartstrings, and refuses to let them free, even after the tormenting echoes of the simplistic lines have segued into the unsettling sobriety of the piano chords. Thusly, it’s relentlessly unapologetic.

ஏன் எட்டி நின்னு பாக்குற நீ
கைபிடிச்சு போவோமே
அதுபோல போலாம் வா!

Pari’s fears, hesitancy, helplessness. and fear of humiliation run as a queasy thread all through Vivek’s biting lyrics. Falling in love, as you know, is meant to be a two-sided story; it’s a harrowing experience if it’s just one-sided, and you can’t rest until you find the missing pieces of the story. Prithika brilliantly brings out this agony with her breathtakingly matter-of-fact yearning.

நீ புடிக்கும் எனக்கு
உனக்கு நான் காயா பழமா
நீ வரீயா நெசமா சொல்லு
நான் வருவேனே

The deceptively-dulcet tone messes you up big time. But the lyrics continue to flesh out the naivete and untainted essence of Jo’s character- a bothersome consequence of decades of a shielded existence.

இங்க நான் தனியா இருக்கேன்
எதுக்குனு தெரியுமா…
நீயும் தான் தனியா இருக்க‌
வந்து உன்ன பாக்கவா?

Pari’s version of the hornets’ nest, might be something that’s difficult to relate with. It is, in fact, the fundamental problem with the existence of all oppressed people. “If you want to live without major hassles, remain locked within your barbed, impregnable boundaries.”

Jo, on the other hand, who’s child-like in her ignorance of her dad’s and relatives’ prejudice, is left in the dark, with regard to the aggressive backlash to their courtship. But, come one, how can anyone in today’s world be like her? But, then, believe me, you can, and should, never underestimate the numbing power of a masterminded, insulated upbringing.

ஒசத்தி கொறச்சல்
என்னவோ எனக்கெதும் புரியல‌?
அழுக்கா கருப்பா
அது என்னவோ எனக்கது தெரியல‌…

Vivek’s lines come across as a personal, heart-crushing love note – one where random words are smudged due to the tears dribbling down Jo’s face, and onto the paper, as she pours her soul out. She’s ingenuous, no doubt, but there’s an element of simmering anger in her pining that brilliantly complements the haunting composition.

நீயும் வேற நானும் வேற
அம்மா அப்பா சொல்லிட்டாங்க!
நம்பாம நான் ஓடி வந்தேன்
எங்க உன்ன காணும் இங்க…

Towards the end, Pari’s feelings for Jo understandably come off as spiritlessly ambiguous. He likes her – and perhaps, even the idea of being in love with her – but even before he could sort his life out, his dreams are mercilessly demolished. He tells Jo’s father hat he still cannot make sense of his feelings for her. He had always considered her his ‘devadhai’ – his guardian angel – but is there more? He doesn’t know. Yet.

And jeez, that staggering final visual – the shot of two tea glasses on the canteen bench. It’s a tragic simile, which slyly sneaks in the fact that Pari still cannot voice out his opinions the way Jo – even with her gender bias – does. And the stunning epilogue culminates in the piercing recognition that animosity and vengeance can never be the answers.

வா ரயில் விட போலாமா
வந்துடு நீ சீக்கிரம்
விளையாட போலாம் வா…
கைபிடிச்சு போவோமே,
அதுபோல போலாம் வா!

That way, Vaa Rayil Vida Polaama makes you ponder on our inherent innocence as kids, and how the society, as a vile construct, proceeds to mercilessly suck every drop of goodness from each one of our souls, to make reluctant, deplorable, and shackled demons out of us.

***

Here’s the video song:

Film: Pariyerum Perumal (2018)

Thandiraa: Deconstructing the femme fatale, Sshivada style

There is something alchemical about well-written and enacted characters in cinema. You watch them unfold, and you instantly know.

They suck you into their life’s drama, make you emotional – regardless of their principles and positioning – and more often than not, threaten to jump off the screen into the real world, even if the actual visuals seem to suggest otherwise.

The intensity is eerie. Almost as if you know them skin and bones. As if you can see through their minds.

Sshivada’s Vasundhara from Adhey Kangal is one such character – the combined cinematic triumph of some unflinching writing and top-notch acting.

In essence, Vasundhara can be summed up in five words: a messed-up and irresistible free spirit.

She is pure lethal beauty, but she’s smart enough to use all that allure and wit to her advantage. She might not be moral, but she captivates with the sheer force of her will, and hypnotises with her intoxicating aura. But, you know what really sets her apart from the rest of her ilk? Her almost insane level of self-awareness. Here’s a strong woman, who knows what she wants and how she wants it. And so, she can seduce any man she chooses by coming off as clever, comely, and a little bit mysterious.

Ghibran, in a bloody masterstroke, conjures up the diabolic spirits of music, and comes up with Thandiraa – a delightfully-tipsy melody that veers off in imaginatively uncomfortable directions – to delineate the woman, in all her deviant glory.

The opening guitar riffs and the tantalising whistle promptly ace the intrigue, and herald the unfurling of something more sinister. And Rajan Chelliah’s phantasmic lead vocals begin.

அடியே நீ களவாணி
குட்டி காட்டேரி…
கண்ணாடி தேகத்தில்
காட்டாறு நீ!

The voodoo-like quality of the man’s voice relentlessly builds upon the enigma. You can feel the floating specks of pixie-dust all around. And, Anuradha’s lyrics, dripping of kinky mystique, is all kinds of twisted.

அடியே நீ களவாணி
குட்டி காட்டேரி…
அலட்டாமல் விளையாடும்
கில்லாடி நீ!

The lines continue to define the character like cold-blooded poetry. They are sweet, yet remorseless in their celebration of a monster. The monster that Vasundhara is; the kind who could charm a gullible man into doing stupid, self-destructive things for money. That way, she transcends the boundaries of the formulaic ‘femme fatale’ – the one we have been conditioned to envision. She’s the platonic ideal of the french stereotype: a gorgeous woman who can use her raw, emotional side to dupe a hapless man into doing her bidding. More than her sexuality, her deceptive warmth is her forte, and she knows it. And that makes her conflicted, and greedy.

கரு வண்டு கண்ணுக்குள்
ஒரு வண்டி பொய்தானே…
அமுல் பேபி மேக்கப்பில்
அனகோண்டா நீ!

A woman like Vasundhara is hard to see-through, because she is obstinate, crafty, and has her play-territories defined. She selects only blind men, makes them fall for her with her compassion, and then presents a story that incorporates a sentimental ploy to extract money. To make matters worse, she brilliantly feigns helplessness and distress, which effortlessly appeal to the men’s greed. And consequently, she becomes a magnet of sorts – an unstoppable one at that.

அழகான சதிகரி
அடங்கா பிடாரி…
பார்பீ -டால் கெட்டப்பில்
பச்சோந்தி நீ !

And there’s more. Despite visibly struggling with the timing of her con-project endpoints, she does not compromise, no matter what! She doesn’t hesitate to get her hands dirty, if needed and at times, even revels in it, inside her camouflage.

பசுத்தோலில் புலிதானே…
படியாத மான்தானே
வெளி வேஷம் எல்லாமே
வெளிச்சம் ஆச்சே!

Where does Vasundhara’s unique concoction of angst, sadness, and cynicism stem from? Is the greed just a projection of her neglected and abused persona? Or does she resort to deception and crime to gain the kind of power, that was all along denied to her? At heart, isn’t she just another vulnerable human being, whose less-than-perfect actions can be traced back to the hardships she had endured? Is she then an offshoot of the society’s attitude towards women and their sexuality? Do you love to hate her or hate to love her?

There are no answers; except the ones that you choose to believe.

***

Here’s the video song:

Film: Adhey Kangal (2017)

Vaanam Paarthen: In search of a life once lost!

Isn’t the pain of missing a loved one beyond words and interpretations? Everything just ends in a second, in a flick of a moment. Sooner or later in life, it becomes imperative that you deal with it. The intensity might vary, but no one is spared. That rising, choking sense of despair, of crushing loss! You must have certainly lived it at some moment – falling to the ground, blood draining from your face, your throat tightening, a wellspring of tears erupting, and your heart wishing it’s all just a damned nightmare. You feel like you are kind of stuck in an agonising time warp, and you crave for a freakin’ miracle, that makes the person return, to set you free. From living hell on earth.

Like the way, Kabali, who had returned from prison after 25 years after being framed for a murder, hopes against hope that his pregnant wife – the one person who had meant the world to him – is still alive, despite watching her being abducted by his foes amid the ensuing massacre. For the sexagenarian, the only true horrific day was, and still is, the day Kumudha had left him behind. When you lose someone at the most unexpected of moments, you try and remember the last time you saw them. That final sight! And most of the time, it’s an agonising memory. You know why? Because, you would have no idea it would be the last, at that time, and it will keep coming back to kill you, piece by piece, flash by flash!

It had happened so quickly and quietly while he was looking away, brooding on a mind-crushing betrayal. Returning home after a couple of decades, and faced with excruciating taunts of her apparent death, he now desperately tries to put the puzzle pieces together, eyes moist, and wondering if she could be alive, somewhere in a corner of the world, waiting for him. But now, his life seems nothing without her, and at sixty, he finds it tough to move on with it, fearing she’s never coming back.

நதியென நான் ஓடோடி, கடலினில் தினம் தேடினேன்
தனிமையின் வலி தீராதோ…
மூச்சுக் காற்று போன பின்பு நான் வாழ்வதோ?
தீராத காயம் மனதில் உன்னாலடி, ஆறாதடி

The cruelty of it all lingers fresh in Kabali’s shattered heart as he recalls the last words she had spoken to him, before she had disappeared. “Come for me, Kabali. I will be holding on, somewhere, somehow! So, please.” The line keeps reverberating through his screaming brain cells, as he realises that he never got to tell Kumudha how much he loved her, one last time. He didn’t get to hold her close, before she slipped away, somewhere into oblivion. He had failed to sense her danger. He had failed to protect the one soul, who had always believed that she was inviolable with his husband around.

வானம் பார்த்தேன், பழகிய விண்மீன் எங்கோ போக…
பாறை நெஞ்சம் கரைகிறதே!

And, for Kabali, the regret would come to him in quiet moments, like when he was going to sleep or when he had stopped to take a lunch break. It would seep to the foreground of his consciousness, and demand to be reexamined again, despite his cognizance that no amount of analysis was going to turn back the clock. Imagine dealing with that kind of guilt! Pin-point needles seem to pierce through the man’s entirety. He doesn’t fight back though, letting the seething pain seek the infinite answers. And for the weathered man, it feels therapeutic, in more ways than one.

ஏனோ இன்று தூரம் போனால்…
இடப் பக்கம் துடித்திடும் இருதய இசை என
இருந்தவள் அவள் எங்கு போனாளோ?

And now, with all the time and the means in the world to seek her out, his growing frustration drifts his thoughts to the past. When he had first met her, her soul-stirring smile had completely won him over. So too had her coral-black hair, her radiant eyes, her innate poise, the nonchalant charm, and her resounding air of confidence. And from the moment she entered his life, Kumudha had been his sole anchor. She had become the cure for his long-term issues with anger. She had given him purpose and balance. In short, she had made him what he was.

இரு விழி இமை சேராமல் உறங்கிட மடி கேட்கிறேன்
மழையினை கண் காணாமல்
மேகம் பார்த்து பூமி கேட்க நான் பாடினேன்!

Kumudha’s thoughts only make Kabali drown further in helplessness. They are his master now. He is at the mercy of their whims and fancies. He badly misses the sound of her voice. The tone she uses when she’s mad or upset. Her hug that would take his indignant face, and turn it into a blend of intent and composure. The softness of her hand and the silkiness of her hair, whenever she reached out for his shoulders. Her cooking, her unfettered laughter, her smart sense of humour, the way she could magically make everything better. The almost-hallucinatory reflections cause a weightless sensation in his chest; as he feels himself sinking through the cruel and relentless ways of destiny.

நீ இல்லா நானோ நிழலை தேடும் நிஜம் ஆனேனடி!

A surprising turn of events leads Kabali to his daughter, whose timely reassurance gives him a mighty ray of hope about Kumudha’s existence, but, in the process, making him a different kind of an emotional mess, compared to what he was before. The journey to find the love of his life takes him to a variety of places; every stop making the sky-rocketing anxiety pound a little more on his brain, a bittersweet lump flowing uncomfortably in and out of his throat, and the mere imaginings of the meeting threatening to engulf him as a whole.

எங்கும் பார்த்தேன் உந்தன் பிம்பம்
கனவிலும் நினைவிலும் தினம் தினம் வருபவள்
எதிரினில் இனி வர நேராதோ!

And throughout the harrowing search, which lasts for days, every haunting memory plays out like a song in his head, repeating itself for what seems like forever. There has been nothing in his life, and there never could be another to replace what he and Kumudha had in the short time they spent together, and the anticipation of its return gives him this strange and heavy feel that he’s not able to comprehend.

நதியென நான் ஓடோடி கடலினில் தினம் தேடினேன்
தனிமையின் வலி தீராதோ?
தூண்டில் முள்ளில் மாட்டிக் கொண்ட மீன் நானடி
ஏமாறும் காலம் இனி வேண்டாமடி, கை சேரடி…

Kabali’s relentless pursuit of the life that had been mercilessly snatched from him, lands him in Pondicherry, where he finally reunites with his Kumudha, after 25 years, 3 months and 11 days. The moment is something that doesn’t belong to the realms of this darned reality. Years of bottled up torment and the sudden shockwave of newfound elation result in a fusillade of emotions, that explode out like water breaching a dam. The beautiful blend of joy, relief, and gratitude surges with every expelled breath, reaching higher peaks, as they manage to come together for a soulful embrace.

Tears take over, and in that exact moment, the knowledge that the universe had conspired in bringing his Kumudha to him, just because he wanted it from the bottom of his heart, undoes him completely. All pretence of quiet coping is lost and he breaks down like a child, not caring about the people around. His arms clasp her tightly, in a heart-rending hug, and he’s smiling, and come on, why shouldn’t he? He has won over the savage ways of fate, and how!

வானம் பார்த்தேன், பழகிய விண்மீன் கை சேர…
பாறை நெஞ்சம் கரைகிறதே!

Notwithstanding how beautifully a couple coexists together, and complement each other, every epic tale of love needs one destined setback, enough to treasure their love; and their commitment, forever. Vaanam Paarthen, the poignant, soul-searching musical ode from Santhosh Narayanan, Kabilan and Pradeep Kumar – which pulls you with it through the whole of Kabali’s rollercoaster ride – is yet another emphatic proof.

***

Here’s the video song;

Film: Kabali (1916)

Neeyum Naanum: Portrait of a lady in love

You know something that has successfully eluded human understanding from the dawn of time?

How does a girl process the multifarious factors involved in recognising her Mr. Right? How does she make sense of his little-understood concept called ‘love’, while it actually happens? How much do the surging hormones matter – as opposed to the brazenly simplistic male psyche – in the grand scheme of things? What kind of mysterious equations play out in her head, while the subliminal mind is doing the math to arrive at a rational decision? But then, is there another part of her that plays the devil’s advocate – the alter ego that screams, let logic please be damned! How long do these labyrinthine contemplations last? When does she know she is ready to let go of all those defence mechanisms that she had used as her armour for decades together?

The mentally-fatigued Kadhambari, who’s hard of hearing, knows it, while leaning on Pandi’s shoulders in the back seat of a god-damned convertible. For sure, it wouldn’t have been a cakewalk, after all the things she had gone through, over the past week. But, somehow, she knows it. How, you ask? That’s what her heart says – amidst all the encompassing uncertainty and chaos – and she knows it seldom goes wrong. But, it also scares her, in ways more than one.

The whole process had admittedly been mighty overwhelming for her, in the sense that she was definitely not in the zone for such an untimely capsizal. But then, it was happening, and Pandi, unfortunately, happened to be not just a figment of her wish-fulfilment fantasies. The man, in flesh and blood, had been with her throughout, trying to ease her through the agony of her missing father. He had made her lost-soul feel at home, in his own bumbling ways. And with his childlike enthusiasm and care, he had somehow given her the things she needed the most at the hour – continual hope and solace. And, it had floored her. Irreversibly.

And now that she can’t stop thinking of him, a part of her is petrified of the consequences, despite the other half soaking in the magic of it all. She hates the fact that he has messed up with her girly feelings just so easily. To be honest, deep down, she’s afraid of love. She’s terrified of the beautiful feeling that he’s inciting in her, making her wonder about the manner of its reciprocation. You know, that kind of fear? The kind that is caused by opening your heart to instinct, and someday, destiny snatches it all away, leaving you with no convincing answers.

For Kadhambari, who had lost her mother at a young age, dealing with this complex barrage of emotions proves to be a completely different ball game. She’s there, slumped on the seat, crushed, craving her dad’s pampering every passing second, and then, suddenly, she gets a flash of Pandi’s infectious smile, and everything magically blurs. Visuals of his comforting presence cloud her mind, and she unchains herself to get lost in them. No doubt, it’s complicated. But, that’s the beauty of the female psyche. It just knows.

And Anirudh, teleporting himself into the meditative world of Kadhamabari, comes up with Neeyum Naanum – a fascinating kaleidoscope of feminine emotions – that captures the conflict of the setting with an almost-oxymoronic ethereal charm.

Kadhambari’s world stops still on its axis, as she snuggles up inside Pandi’s reassuring embrace. There’s no concept of time, no awareness of space, no blues of the sky; just a soothing blankness. And her mind feels finally at peace. How could it be that she hadn’t encountered such ‘uncaging’ love before? Pure. Unselfish. Undemanding. Free. She inwardly thanks the insouciant ways of destiny, and hugs Pandi tighter. Shouldn’t a feeling like this be cherished for life?

The revving up of the car engine sets the tone for the western classical piano to hold sway. It instantly feels as if sunlight had entered a few raindrops and emerged out as a magnificent rainbow. You can’t help but give in to the spell. And just when you think things can’t get any better, the intoxicating vocals of Neeti Mohan begin.

நீயும் நானும் சேர்ந்தே செல்லும் நேரமே
நீளம் கூட வானில் இல்லை,
எங்கும் வெள்ளை மேகமே!
போக போக ஏனோ நீளும் தூரமே
மேகம் வந்து போகும் போக்கில்
தூறல் கொஞ்சம் தூறுமே…

It feels like soaring in mid-air. That’s the thing about music. And likewise, love, apparently. You never know where they will take you. Like what it does for Kadhambari. When Pandi smiles at her, she feels invisible hands wrapping around her, making her feel safe. When his eyes are locked on hers, it’s like she can see their promising future – like frames sliding into each other. His mere closeness makes her feel invincible; like everything’s possible in this world, like she could conquer anything. Her fears dissolve into thin air, and she sees truth and purpose taking up their spaces in her troubled mind. It’s almost like a trance. Some call it bewitched; she calls it companionship.

And Thamarai’s impassioned lyrics, relentlessly, swarm over Kadhambari’s intoxicated high, like nothing you have experienced before.

என் அச்சம் ஆசை எல்லாமே தள்ளிபோகட்டும்…
எந்தன் இன்பம் துன்பம் எல்லாமே உன்னை சேரட்டும்!

Kadhambari is actually surprised to know how much she can have in common with someone completely different from her. She’s kind, shy, and reserved. He celebrates his tasteful pretentiousness. She treasures her silences and solitude. He cannot keep calm for a moment. She had built a virtual barricade around her with her seeming apathy, which insulates her from the dangers of the real world. He willingly submits himself to a crazy motley of thrills. No one would ever think they could be soulmates for life. But, as far as she’s concerned, they are the moon and the sun for each other. She gets the warmth from him, and in turn, he picks up her tender gleam.

நான் பகல் இரவு
நீ கதிர் நிலவு
என் வெயில் மழையில்
உன் குடை அழகு…

Kadhambari now can’t stop smiling. His casual brush sends her heartbeat racing like the wind. Every time he holds her face between his hands, she feels each of her knots being untied, one at a time. With his words, he seems to paint her the life she had always wanted to live, a life that her subconscious approves of, despite all the inner cacophony. Is he painstakingly collecting the shattered pieces of her once-cheery self, and helping her piece them together, while holding her hand in walking the hard road of recovery – not just to thriving, but to embracing each new day, with newfound vigour. No wonder she wants him, just for herself. For the rest of her life!

நீ வேண்டுமே
எந்த நிலையிலும் எனகென
நீ போதுமே!

Perhaps, that’s why they say love is pure magic; an incomparable gift from the universe. Neeyum Naanum is yet another form of its relentless celebration – one of earnest commitment, togetherness, trust, and the almost-incredible credence of the female psyche.

***

Here’s the video song:

Film: Naanum Rowdy Dhaan (2015)

Unakkaaga Poranthaenae: A from-the-heart celebration of a couple who learn, unlearn, and relearn ‘romance’

As you grow older, how are you supposed to love? How are you expected to treat romance? Is there something that keeps telling you that as you pile on the years, you have to give up on ‘romantic’ love? Is it a kind of subtle subconscious programming that the society slips into your head as you get lost in the ‘responsibilities’ of a family?

From what you see in the heartwarming Unakkaaga Poranthaenae, Pannaiyar and Chellammma – a small-town couple in their sixties – seem to have somehow resisted this ‘conditioning’ with a few ingenious techniques. And wow, the kind of difference it makes to their grey-haired days!

The couple, with their understated yet enthusiastic chemistry, make their matter-of-fact bursts of romance seem so natural… so organic that you get the impression that it’s the only way they know to love. The surging hormones, the thumping chest-beats, the weak knees, and the passionate kisses had given way to something profound and priceless – a lovable coexistence, where each one revels in the comforting presence of the other, and their hearts, in consequence, feel at home.

And Justin Prabhakaran, soaking in the cuteness of this endearing courtship, crafts a lovely melody in the retro style, subtle and imaginative, with every instrument used – the tabla, bongos, mouth organ, violins, and keys – telling a cute little story of its own.

The jingles, with which Justin opens this mesmerising beauty, in particular, do a brilliant job of pulling you into the world of these two long-time companions, who have learnt to find the biggest of joys in the smallest of things. That way, it’s a bite-sized piece of musical genius. And it touches you in the most delightful of ways.

Balram, Sandhya, SP Charan, and Anu Anand take it from there to continue the celebration of their love, in all its elementary and unassuming glory.

உனக்காக பொறந்தேனே எனதழகா
பிரியாம இருப்பேனே பகல் இரவா…

With her soulmate around, Chellamma senses a sense of completeness enveloping her. A random half-romantic tease has her soaking in its circumstances for hours together. She writes him a stunning love letter inside her head – a coy grin spread all over her flushed face – while stealing a glance at their framed photograph in the hallway. It’s truly adorable.

உனக்கு வாக்கப்பட்டு
வருஷங்க போனா என்ன…
போகாது உன்னோட பாசம்!

She deftly uses her body language to communicate with her husband like how a blind man uses echolocation. It comes off like sorcery. She jumps at the first chance to stage a trivial prank, and as if by instinct, capitalises on it to conjure up a moment of casual intimacy. It bulldozes the barbed definitions of romance with such an assertive charm that the romantic in you feels instantly threatened.

என் உச்சி முதல் பாதம் வரை
என் புருஷன் ஆட்சி
ஊர் தெக்காலத்தான் நிக்கும் அந்த
முத்தாலம்மன் சாட்சி

For the Pannaiyar, just a simple memory of his wife stirs up a rainbow of feelings – from euphoria to solace. He spends almost his entire day with her, but that doesn’t mean he’s pouring out his heart 24/7. But then, he’s the kind who would stop for a moment to remove the ‘arivalmanai’, which is dangerously close to his wife on the kitchen floor, and gets on with his work, without making a big deal about the timely ‘concern’. He revels in the accidental bumps they get into. And, he makes sure he doesn’t lose his sense of humour – the one thing that she wouldn’t trade the whole world for.

எனக்காக பொறந்தாயே எனதழகி
இருப்பேனே மனசெல்லாம் உன்னை எழுதி!

He treats her like his best friend. He doesn’t hold grudges overnight. He gives her space, and the respect she deserves. He honours her right to her own opinion. And after a tiring day of housework, he makes her sit on the verandah swing, and serves her the simplest of dinners. And when she mock-protests – while giving him the tightest hug inside her head – she becomes his most potent happy-pill. But, you know the beauty of this all? He doesn’t plan or improvise any of this. He loves, just like he breathes.

உனக்கு மாலை இட்டு வருசங்க போனா என்ன…
போகாது என்னோட பாசம்!

You know they say the perfect marriage is just two imperfect people, refusing to give up on each other, till the very end. Pannaiyar and Chellamma seem to have got a grasp of it, somewhere down the lane. And so, they marry each other, daily. It’s an ongoing experience for them, not something that happened just once. And therefore, every day becomes sheer magic.

***

Here’s the video song:

Film: Pannayarum Padminiyum (2014)

Nenje Ezhu: Where ARR brings alive the infinite power of love, in all its intense glory

Fondness comes in multitudes of shades, doesn’t it?

When you feel it, you recognise it – no matter how many hues lighter or darker it may be than anything you’ve previously experienced.

But, how do you know it’s that ‘love’ your heart truly seeks? How do you recognise that one person amidst all those noises of infatuation, lust, and prejudice? How will you know that this is the thing that’s going to change your life, forever? How can you ever be sure?

Maryan gets his answers, while lying stonkered in a crucible of death, a bone-dry basin of vastness – the scorched deserts of Sudan – tongue parched in dehydration, stomach going into merciless pangs of hunger, the mountains of sands growing no lesser, despite the three days of walking.

‘Love’ is that which you believe is worth fighting for. Against all the odds of the universe put together. Against every single doubt and bubble of insecurity. Against a society consumed by bigotry. Against a world restrained by rationality.

Maryan sees it now. His primal urge to survive has come down to one thing. His anticipation of a miracle – his looking ahead to a life with Panimalar – the only person who could make the critical difference, the one concerning life and death.

As the remorseless monotony of the parched wilderness burns into his brain, his only visual reliefs becoming the spiny cactuses, the swooping vultures awaiting their next meal, and the random sightings of the chameleon, the fevered cognition of Pani’s presence seems like his beacon of light to salvation, making him cling to the last drop of life left of his soul.

Because, isn’t the only thing worth living for, in this vile world, love? “How much am I going to fight for it, how much am I willing to suffer to rescue that sublime feel from the clutches of death?” That’s the only thing running in Maryan’s head, as he gives it his all, trying to get a grasp of the reality amidst the horrific hallucinations that seem to be taking over his mind.

AR Rahman reaches out to the howling alcoves of Maryan’s persona to justify the harrowing setting, and in the process, comes out with Nenje Ezhu, an anthemic track that strives to dig out purpose from the deepest depths of despair. And damn, does he nail it!

The opening keys, the barely-there percussions, and the lilting strings beautifully set the stage for the man to give wings to his rousing vocals. And instantly, it feels like a magical drizzle in the blasted, burned, and warped god-forsaken place.

ஆயிரம் சூரியன் சுட்டாலும்
கருணையின் வர்ணம் கரைந்தாலும்
வான்வரை அதர்மம் ஆண்டாலும்
மனிதன் அன்பை மறந்தாலும்
வலியால் உள் உயிர் தேய்ந்தாலும்
உன் காதல் அழியாதே….

And just when Maryan seems lost, confused about his purpose in life, contemplating for a moment about taking the easy way out and hang it up, Rahman goes…

நெஞ்சே எழு
நெஞ்சே எழு…
காதல் என்றும் அழிவதில்லை!

It’s truly soul-stirring. And it puts forward a very pertinent question: if you didn’t have to fight for anything ever, how will you know what is worth fighting for?

Maryan, meanwhile, is feeling like a castaway on a sea of sand, despite his attempts at holding on to his crutches – ones made of his memories with Pani. Coming to think of it, those seemed like the only times he had literally lived.

But now, he’s getting steadily weaker, and he fears the worst. His body is slowly, but steadily shutting down. The listless taste of his last snack seems like a distant memory as he limps and trudges towards his only chance at deliverance, Pani.

Will true love make you stronger than what you actually are? Will it make you feel unstoppable, conferring a mysterious confidence that you can do anything you’ve set your mind to?

Well, Maryan, whose skin now feels like it’s been stabbed by a billion sun-spears and scraped by sandpaper, believes Pani can indeed take him through this ghoulish nightmare.

“I must live through this. I’ve got to keep fighting… She must be there waiting for me. Get on those fuckin’ legs, and take that next step. Breathe…Breathe!”

இருவர் வானம் வேறென்றாலும்
உன் நெஞ்சினில் நினைவுகள் அழிந்தாலும்
பருவங்கள் உருவம் மாறினாலும்
குழந்தை சிரிக்க மறந்தாலும்
இயற்கையில் விதித் தடம் புரண்டாலும்
உன் காதல் அழியாதே…

Pani’s remembrances give Maryan a special kind of glasses that displays hope even in all the burning madness. His raw feet burn like camphor. His eyes feel like they have melted into the back of his mind, making everything seem mirage-like. Every step feels like a marathon; every passing second a day. Every gasp is a living agony. It’s like drowning in a stew-pot of melting asphalt. And yet, he perseveres.

For Pani. For the sake of her words that echo through the punishing winds. “Come back, Maryan. Come to me. It’s where you belong.”

And so, holding his writhing soul in his numb hands, and a ton of beautiful things to look forward to, he snubs the sand off his face, and walks on.

“I’m going to battle it out. I’m going to fight for you. Till the very end. And, you, Pani, need to remember that.”

அஞ்சாதே துஞ்சாதே
இனி என்றும் இல்லை வேதனை
புதிதாய் பிறப்பாய் வழியெங்கும்
உன்முன் பூமழை
எந்நாளும் உன் காதல்,
இது வாழும் சத்தியமே
தொலையாதே
எந்த இருளிலும் மறையாதே…

Maryan will keep walking, even if his will to live gets sporadically sapped by elements that are not under his control; despite the flashes of an overwhelming desire to give up and go to sleep forever. Because, he knows true love is worth fighting for, And now, after all this, he even more firmly believes that it exists, despite everything he has been told and despite everything he has lived through.

நெஞ்சே எழு!
காதல் என்றும் அழிவதில்லை…

***

Here’s the video song:

Film: Maryan (2013)

Google Google: A kaleidoscopic burst of electropop ft. a pulse-quickeningly cool Vijay

Who doesn’t love a spirited, crazy, and radiant dance number that makes you feel all warm, fuzzy, and cheery, without launching a brutal attack on your eardrums?

Google Google is one such track that affectionately nudges the reluctant-you to a quiet corner of the dance floor – away from all the head-splitting madness, unclogs all that whizzing cacophony in your head, waits patiently till you lose that last bit of diffidence, and resolutely, manages to get you into the groove.

Simply put, it’s like the audiovisual equivalent of that warm hug that your best friend gives, while being buzzed at the dance floor, and suddenly, the whole world seems so much better.

And who else than our very own genre-specialist, Vijay, to take you through this kaleidoscopic burst of electropop, which feels like a chilled-out, updated version of a random Kamal party-number from the eighties.

With an intro that promptly invokes the Veejay aura, Harris – batting in his home track with probably a spring bat – comes up with an eclectic blend of pop beats, lead synth, and jazzy guitar riffs, which together, blend into one singular ode to modern love.

And Andrea Jeremiah, operating in the low register, kicks things off with a bang. The moment you hear her, its immediately evident that she’s being unapologetically her. And as if by magic, the whole jazzed-up atmosphere springs to life.

Google Google பண்ணிப் பாத்தேன் உலகத்துல
இவன் போல ஒரு கிறுக்கனும் பொறந்ததில்ல
Yahoo Yahoo பண்ணிப் பாத்தும் இவனப் போல
எந்தக் கிரகத்திலும் இன்னொருத்தன் கிடைக்கவில்ல!

To be honest, it’s as if her soul is tripping in flippant joy, and she’s channelising all that cockiness out with a natural bounce. She’s living the delightful irreverence in Madhan Karky’s lines, and wow, it shows!

நான் dating கேட்டா watchஅ பாத்து ok சொன்னானே!
Shopping கேட்டா ebaydotcom கூட்டிப் போனானே!
Movie கேட்டேன் Youtube போட்டுப் popcorn தந்தானே!

And as the track further finds its footing, you see that there are no pompous tricks or pretentious stunts in Andrea’s singing; just a jaunty girl letting her hair down, and having a whale of a time. And, it’s unbelievably invigorating.

பாவமா நிக்குறான்
ஊரையே விக்குறான்!
Meet my meet my boyfriend
My smart ‘nd sexy boyfriend…

And now, Vijay joins the party, literally, with a spectacular nonchalance that the star has come to master, over the years. Believe me, after Andrea’s prelude, it instantly feels like ice on fire. A delectable blend that works in the most mysterious of ways. The spunk remains, but the track now takes a delightfully-understated twist.

இவ dating-காக dinner போனா starter நான் தானே!
shopping போக கூட்டிப் போனா trolley நான் தானே!
movie போனா சோக sceneஇல் kerchief நான் தானே!
பாக்கதான் இப்படி
ஆளுதான் அப்படி!

Vijay, in addition, seems to have evolved his style here into something debonair, more polished, and unabashedly urbane – acing the delicate balance between the familiar and the exotic. And that something, undoubtedly, brings a breath of fresh air into the long-saturated pub setting.

The song truly apexes at 2:32, when Andrea, rounding off Vijay’s buoyant humming with a fizzy chuckle, proceeds to ace the second charanam with incredible aplomb. It’s a moment that can happen only with a singer, who treats her performance akin to a celebration. A continual one, at that.

Hey come on girls,
இது intro time…
இவன் யாருன்னு இப்ப சொல்லட்டா?

ஒரு handshake செஞ்சிட
பொண்ணுங்க வந்தா
ஸ்வொய்ங்குன்னு பறப்பான் bulletஆ…

The throbbing beats, the frenetic yet charming energy of Andrea’s tongue-in-cheek repartees, and the layers of sound reveal spaces in you that could well use a cheeky burst of romance.

military cutல style இருக்கும் – ஒரு
மில்லிமீட்டர் sizeல சிரிப்பிருக்கும்!
almost ஆறடி
ஊரில் யாரடி?
இவன் போல் இவன் போல்
goody goody goody goody…

And when Vijay finally owns all of the dance floor at 3:08, what a sight it turns out to be! Much has been spoken about his choreographic acumen, but this one is the man at his intuitive best. On the stage, his flowing personality bursts through into a vibrant picture of an earnest officer, letting his guard down for the briefest of moments.

You’re all grins, You look like an idiot swaying in the air with the man and you don’t care. Inside you’re just happy, thrilled and more alive than you have ever been. You feel a part of you – the real you – come out to rock, to feel the vibe of the music, and let the body go free. That way, the track is an emotion of its own – a brilliant feeling of heartfelt celebration, suspended in time.

***

Here’s the video song:

Film: Thuppaakki (2012)

Ayyayo Nenju Alayuthadi: A walk to remember

You know, walking dates are the best things that have ever happened to mankind. Come on, what better way for two nervous people to get to know each other than talk while they do the thing they do every day to get around? It makes a lot of sense, right?

KP Karuppu would concur.

Well, he has been crushing on Irene, an Angio-Indian girl from his neighbourhood for some months now, and it had flip-flopped his daily routine like an iceberg capsizing a boat. He adores her and the staggering aura that surrounded her, but at the back of his mind, he also knows that she’s way out of his league, in the most ruthless sense.

To put things in perspective, Karuppu makes a living out of rearing roosters for cockfights. Irene goes to college. He resides in a small shelter house with his mom, and yet, would spend most of his day out with his friends. She lives with her extended family in a cottage that smells of lush greenery and cologne. He wears his heart on his sleeve – his emotions erupting out like mini-explosions. Happiness, for him, means going dancing on the streets without a care in the world, and wrath, more often than not, ends up in random blood baths and few bones being crunched. She rarely emotes, both inside and outside. You could spot a faint smirk at the corner of her lips when she feels good, and her protests reveal themselves as mute, eerie silences. He bottoms up a quarter of whisky in a gulp, and gorges on meen kozhambu and nalli elumbu fry, couched on the pavement. She cuts her way through her steak and pasta with the help of knives and forks. He had made the sands and the dirt his very own hangouts. She visits the community park with her parents once a month. Calling these singular personalities the opposite ends of the spectrum would be utterly criminal. Hey, with them in the picture, the spectrum itself disappeared.

But, when has infatuation ever taken to the barbed wires of the social construct? Just thinking about Irene brings a smile to Karuppu’s face, and a vibrant twinkle in his eyes. At some level, he probably realizes she might probably end up as someone he will most likely never talk to, or even meet, but that doesn’t stop him from giving in to his reveries.

So, when on a destined late-evening, Irene invites him to take her out on a stroll around the city, Karuppu’s heart almost skips a beat. He tries to put together her sudden change of heart, in vain. Has she somehow glimpsed upon a brighter side of his almost-impenetrable routine? Has years of bland solitude made her reach for the prospect of some adventure? You don’t know, yet.

Irene, having sneaked out of her house, guardedly follows Karuppu, who’s still staggering in unexpected shock. They walk slowly and fumblingly, taking wary half-steps, till they reach the corner of their street. The air of gawkiness is strikingly palpable.

And in a wondrous moment of intuition-taking-over-rationale, he slides his palms into hers, and leads her along. She mock-protests, but he sort of comes up with a masterstroke line, “கூட வரனு சொல்ற.. உன்ன சேஃப்டியா கூப்ட்டு போணுமா இல்லியா… அதுக்காண்டி தான் கைய புடிச்சேன்! வேணான்னு சொன்ன வுட்ருவேன்.” Hell, it takes a special kind of stoicism to resist such charm, and Irene clearly doesn’t have it. And their fingers get intertwined as they walk away into the mist.

And, Prashanthini’s breezy, full-hearted alaap begins. It’s stirring. And gratifying, at a very profound level.

GV Prakash, probably taking inspiration from his times with Saindhavi, intercepts her with a violin bit that takes the prelude to a whole new level. You can’t help but give in to the tasteful conspiracy of the folk rhythm.

The night has now started for Irene and Karuppu – one they will carry with them to their death beds. They start strolling through the darkness of the enticing roads, which never seem to end. A whole new universe had magically opened up. To accommodate two sweet persons, who are trying to cross over into their respective contradictory worlds.

And now, like a streak of silvery moonlight bathing their momentous night, SPB and SP Charan take over. Believe me, it’s like nothing you have ever felt before. It celebrates, yet counsels. It entices, yet muddles. It suggests, yet pulls back. The camaraderie is truly fascinating.

அய்யயோ நெஞ்சு அலையுதடி
ஆகாயம் இப்போ வளையுதடி
என் வீட்டில் மின்னல் ஒளியுதடி
எம்மேல நிலா பொழியுதடி…

Karuppu and Irene traverse the footpaths, holding hands – a tingling feeling spreading throughout their entire body. The street lights seem strangely cosy, in the otherwise looming darkness. And, from time to time, there are the faintly sinister silhouettes of curious men – equally threatened by the couple’s untimely presence, no doubt, as they are by theirs. And the night stretches, filled with conversations that had never been so honest, vulnerable and enthusiastic. It’s almost as if this transference – of all things soulful – was destined to happen.

உன்னை பார்த்த அந்த நிமிஷம்,
மறைஞ்சி போச்சே நகரவே இல்ல…
தின்ன சோறும் செரிக்கவே இல்ல
புலம்புறேன் நானே!

His heart burning in his wrists and palms, her hand so perfectly warm in that cold, they walk on. They make several loops of their alley, how many neither of them can recall. On the first few circuits, the talk has been shy, almost becoming familiar and then each of them backing away. Another few circuits and they start making random small talk – from everyday trivia to embarrassing secrets. You can’t describe that kind of a conversation; you just have to feel it. He’s smiling without realising it. Her face is almost melting.

SPB and Charan are at their intriguing best now, as they breeze through Snehan’s love-drunk lyrics like a dream.

உன் வாசம் அடிக்கிற காத்து,
என் கூட நடக்கிறதே!
என் சேவ கூவுற சத்தம்
உன் பேர கேக்குறதே…

As Karuppu and Irene walk along the highway, she opens up a little more. He then takes her to meet his friends, who are boozing to glory, on a random terrace, as if its the most natural thing to do in the wee hours. The glowing moon hits Irene just right so you could see that broad smile on her face. The girl is truly going through a lot, and it shows.

உன்னை தொடும் அனல் காத்து
கடக்கையிலே பூங்காத்து
குழம்பி தவிக்குதடி என் மனசு!

They stand on the sidelines of a random bridge and watch the sparkling water. They stop for a glass of ‘kattanchaya’ at the roattukada. They watch a bit of an old-school therukoothu. They take the local MTC bus, occupying opposite seats, the handrail in the middle telling a story of its own.

And in the dead of night, in spite of the electric lights, Madurai seems like an alien city to Irene. For a girl, who had never stepped out of her balcony after 7 pm, its all staggering, in its literal sense. But, she’s in no mood to stop.

ஹோ திருவிழா கடைகளைப் போல
திணறுறேன் நான் தானே…
எதிரில் நீ வரும்போது
மிரளுறேன் ஏன்தானோ!

Karuppu’s looking at her freely now. She doesn’t want to hide any more of her skyrocketing-awe in pointless reticence. He kind of sees his whole life go by, in front of him, on her face. You know, falling for each other, can be more exhilarating than you had ever imagined!

கண்சிமிட்டும் தீயே
என்ன எரிச்சிப்புட்ட நீயே
தா ரா ரா ரர ரா ரா
தா ரா ரா ரர ரா ரா

Karuppu calls a friend and gets a bike for the night. Irene climbs up the pillion, with a wry grin, and holds on to his shoulder. Well… a thousand daggers must have hit the man that moment, but he channels all of that into a matter-of-fact smile. And they start whizzing through the streets. The desolate lanes tear back in silence, as the water in the potholes shimmer by the glow of the street lamps. The desolate trees on the roadside sway with the strong breeze. And whew, the girl is flying.

மழைச்சாரல் விழும் வேளை
மண்வாசம் மணம் வீச
உன் மூச்சி தொடுவேன் நான் மிதந்தேன்

By now, Karuppu had been so lost in constructing scenarios for the night ahead that he’s surprised to see how far the bike has taken them. And all of a sudden, the dhaba is in sight. There’s nothing slick about it, no fancy lighting. There aren’t any tables, just the uneven cots baring the cracks of age. Despite the late hour, they can still hear the faint music from inside. And the parotta and salna arrive. You become a fly on the cot wiring.

As Irene, on a definite high, watches Karuppu sincerely explain the parotta-eating protocol, she realises she’d never felt this happy, ever before. Even at school, she had been an outsider, always the lonely girl, the one who stayed at home watching tv on Saturday nights while her friends went to parties and out on dates. And now, with Karuppu around, everything suddenly seems to make sense. They talk a little more – about the dog she had while growing up, about his childhood friend who died of drowning, about her disastrous exams, about his liking for mutta dosa, about the things that keep them awake at nights. It’s almost like a fevered dream.

ஹோ கோடையில அடிக்கிற மழையா
நீ என்னை நனைச்சாயே
ஈரத்தில அணைக்கிற சுகத்த
பார்வையிலே கொடுத்தாயே

He escorts her back to her house, and gets down from his bike. She pauses for a moment, smiles again, and walks inside, with a mysterious beam. Is she soaking in the sudden barrage of life’s newfound pleasures? You don’t know, yet.

But, what you do know is that getting close with someone you harbour a secret liking for is a truly divine pleasure. Regardless of how things turn out, you give them a freakin’ chance. You let them grow inside you, nice and slow. Perhaps they would turn out to be a life long friend, a lovable rogue, or instead, a person with whom you can spend the rest of your life with. Irene is still not sure how this thing with Karuppu will turn out. But, she has made a new friend, and a truckload of lovely memories. And for her, that’s the only thing that mattered.

***

Here’s the video song:

Film: Aadukalam (2011)